I sat where I always do, the thready mists of Helheim swirling before me. The crowd had gathered again, an indistinct circle of hundreds around me. More an impression of a gathering of people than anything solid. I could smell apple blossom on the breeze. My heart hammered in my chest and I could feel the faint twitches of my face, the odd things my physical body does in this kind of trance. It made me grateful for the veil covering me. Seers are strange enough without obvious muscle spasms.
A living voice spoke. ‘Seeress, my spiritual practice is faltering. Can any of my ancestors tell me how to connect again?’
I gazed at the crowd. There was a sense of movement, people shuffling out of the way, off to my right. An ancestor stepped forward, shifting in that moment from the outline and impression of a person to entirely real. He was my height, robed in the simple black of an orthodox priest. He had broad shoulders and a broad, friendly face. His dark hair was slightly curly.
“Do the rituals,” he said. “Go through the motions.”
Some of the dead speak and I relay the messages. Some of the dead are strong and take the shortcut. I see what they see. Their voices speak from my lips.
This priest was strong. My vision swam and I saw before me his worshipers gathered. His/my broad-fingered hands held a round, crusty loaf of bread and all eyes were upon it. Words spilled from my lips.
“You break the bread. And in the breaking of it, you find the connection. The forms themselves contain the spirit. You will not always want to. Go through the forms anyway. Break the bread. Do the rituals.”
As he/I spoke, I saw him tear the bread, the brown crust revealing the lighter crumb beneath. I felt the rush of holiness in that moment, saw the hope and devotion on the faces watching in his church. I felt the wave of spirit rushing through the priest speaking with my voice, the transformation of simple action to holiness.
I do not remember many things from when I sit in the seer’s chair. The trance I use in Hrafnar-style Seidr leaves me weak and shaky. Living humans are not meant to visit the realm of the dead for very long. Simply being there taxes the brain and body in startling ways, and the vision of spirit tracks oddly in a brain of flesh. My memories are indistinct, and many experiences vanish entirely. But this priest I remember. His message was so clear. And perhaps a soul that spent a human lifetime on matters of spirit is an unusually good messenger.
So many people are looking for ways to reconnect their spiritual practices this spring. It’s normal to not be feeling it. Most if not all of us are exhausted from an entire year of restriction. The stress, vigilance, and isolation have taken a toll. The grief of loss is entirely too fresh, sharp edges throwing shadows where bright sunlight should be. It can be tough to find the motivation to address our spirits. The spring equinox is this upcoming Saturday. A holiday traditionally met with shaking off winter in many different forms might not be resonating for you. And part of me wants to tell you to chuck it in the fuck-it bucket. That it doesn’t matter. That you can just pick it up later when you do feel like it.
And then I remember the words of the priest.
Do the rituals. Go through the motions. The forms themselves contain the spirit.
You know something? I’ve never regretted doing a ritual. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely regretted attending a ritual before. Nothing like going to a poorly performed ritual to kill the buzz. But doing one? Performing a ritual on my own or leading one for others? I have never once regretted it. I’ve never been sorry I spent time in front of my altar in prayer, meditation, or offering. I’ll kvetch and moan and drag my feet on my way there, but afterward? Afterward I’m not sorry. Most of the time I feel better. Sometimes it completely turns my day around.
That long-dead priest was right. At some point while I’m going through the motions, I remember why I’m there. The motions themselves are the priming of the pump. Sometimes a trickle at first, the flow of spirit begins to circulate through me. The recitation of the litany begins to ring in the air. The meditation is suddenly sharp, bright, and full of promise. The offering ceases to be incense and becomes life.
Break the bread. Do the rituals.
Within paganism, we talk so much about the power of intention. That the form almost doesn’t matter in the face of a strong enough intention. But we forget to talk about the other side of the equation – the forms themselves exist for a reason. The shapes we learned and repeat are their own sigils, their own egregores, their own containers of spirit now. By engaging with the patterns, we touch all that ever flowed through them. We prime the pump. And then the spirit flows.
I woke up this morning with the memory of that Seidr ritual, that priest, playing through my head. There are generally reasons when that happens.
So. Today I’m going to suggest you do it anyway.
What is your normal Ostara or Eostreblot practice? Do you clean off your altar and reset it? Prepare specific foods? Do you wander in nature and gather some hints of spring to bring into your home? Look at the rituals you’ve done before. Choose one. Or join one that’s unfolding out there in the interwebs. My own community is offering one this upcoming Friday night.
Do it anyway. Prime the pump. Break the bread.
And see what flows.
So, what are you doing for the spring equinox this year? Hit me up in the comments.
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